Parents innately know that too much TV for a child, or anyone,
for that matter is not a good thing. Sometimes, we just need some
peace in order to cook dinner or take care of a task. In this respect,
the TV is very alluring for parents who are exhausted, overwhelmed
stressed or all three at the same time.
Getting your children used to entertaining themselves without the
TV may prove to be less challenging than you think and it provides
a win-win situation for everyone.
Here are a few things that you may not know about TV watching:
TV is not relaxing, it is actually stimulating, but not in a way that is
useful for young minds. A young child needs to interact with people
and the world around him in order to develop healthy brain function.
Watching TV is passive stimulation, where the child is being bombarded
with fast paced editing that lends itself to being "zoned out".
A brain needs habitual age appropriate mental challenges
for proper growth and stimulation.
Researchers have found that popular baby videos designed to stimulate
vocabulary actually had more detrimental effects that positive ones.
Babies require face to face stimulation and interaction with a parent
in order to learn. TV or Video watching interferes with the way the
young brain begins to "hard-wire" itself.
In order for the brain to develop optimally, a child needs to engage fully
in creative play that both challenges and inspires him to make full use
of the sensory data he is receiving.
The 2D experience of TV watching robs your child of engaging in problem
solving, visual and cognitive strengthening as well as learning
important social skills.
When a child does not have time set aside for introspection (playing alone,
or reading quietly) it is very difficult for him to get connected to a deeper
sense of self. With introspection comes getting to know your inner voice
and finding the wisdom within. It is a time to decompress and reflect.
Through this time of reflection a child has the chance to sort things
out and to discover his interior world.
Research indicates that children's creativity and problem solving abilities
decline as they continue to watch TV and for longer periods of time.
A child's imagination is basically watered down when TV takes up
a few hours a day of their time.
A few hours a day equals hundreds of hours a year.
If a child is used to watching a certain amount of TV per day, cutting
him off "cold turkey" seems unreasonable and can lead to resentment.
Here are a few ideas to help you with the transition from less
TV to more creative play:
Ask interesting questions often that engage your child
and encourage her to think.
Give your child an opportunity to play actively, using her whole body
as in swimming, gymnastics, soccer, etc.
Start cutting back TV watching until there is no more than 1/2 hour
after school of screen time and one - two hours on weekends.
Bring your child into the kitchen with you as you make dinner and have
her do her homework or an activity that she likes such as drawing, for example.
Give your children creative and exciting projects that are aligned with
their interests and watch how engaged they become.
Provide lots of positive feedback when your child has found ways
to play creatively.
Remember that it is critical for you to remain consistent around your
rules about TV watching so that your children know what to expect.
Withholding TV is not a punishment it is an act of claiming back the
direction that you want your child to grow towards. That direction is
positive creativity, active listening, creative thinking, inner reflection
for greater connection to inner wisdom and celebrating the uniqueness
that is "I".
You may be amazed to find that once your child(ren) have become more
accustomed to discovering who they are and what they can do creatively,
without the TV, their demand for it begins to fall back. Your children begin
to dream big and live in their creativity which is the most natural thing
for them to do.